Thursday, 27 October 2011

My EPT Debut and how little I know!


My EPT debut is coming to a close now and it's been a really fun trip. I was totally ready to get away from England for a bit despite not actually being in the country for that long since my Vegas trip. But the joys of blue skies, great food and some live tournaments to donate some money in is always something I'm up for.

Unfortunately on the trip I don't have anything to report on the poker side of things. The talk of the Italians being really bad and offering a lot of value is true but alas I didn't get much going in any of the 5 tournaments I played.

My main event table at the start of the trip was really really soft. Much softer than I thought it would be for a €5k tournament. I probably ran good on getting a great table draw despite not actually get much going. You start with 30k chips at 25/50 but that still didn't stop some of my table mates trying to get all 400bb in with top pair no kicker and getting far too attached to underpairs to the board. From my (somewhat limited) experience of playing with the Italians, they are the kind of players who cannot stand ever being bluffed off a pot but at the same time love to run really illogical bluffs themselves. I found the best strategy versus these players is to just try to make hands and take them all to value town. In the end I busted the main event in a slightly frustrating spot running my KK into AA for just over 100bb which was made slightly more annoying given at the time the big blind and the button was sat out. But c'est la vie!

I also played all of the freezeout side events. On the whole the fields were pretty polarised between having tournament pros who had traveled over from around the world for WSOPe which was just down the road in Cannes, France the previous week and a lot of very bad and spazzy Italian players. However, I did get the feeling there were some circuit grinders who had been out travelling in London doing EPT London, then Cannes and now playing this who were obviously getting really frustrated with the live tournament grind and punting stacks off in really unnecessary spots. In the end the best run I got was in the €2k side event on a pretty tough table when I managed to run my stack up to 42k before eventually making the second best hand in a few close spots and busting in a pretty big flip.

You'll just have to believe me when I say there are worse places in the world to brick a tournament series; San Remo is really an amazing place. Although there's not too much to do in terms of night life, the whole area is very scenically beautiful and the food is incredible. Mmmm...lobster spaghetti..

Socially this trip was really nice as well. I met and talked to a ton of poker players with far more experience in these events and with far better results than I have. It was really interesting especially in talking strategically about hands that people had played. I feel like it really goes to show how deep this game can go and how much better some people are at poker which on the surface might not be obvious. I've got a really long way to go to becoming anywhere near one of the best in Europe.

What I've found that really differentiates the greatest professionals from the mediocre professionals is their ability to just constantly put you in tough spots. In good structured live tournaments especially when the average stack is often pretty deep, good players have such an edge in the way that they can just constantly apply the pressure in spots that make it really really tough for you to play back against them. I think this was highlighted as I was speaking to a few people who had played with Erik Seidel a fair bit and I was inquiring with them what made him excel so much in the super deepstack formats that he plays. Of course he's bound to have ran pretty good, but to assign all of his success in the past 1-2 years down to this alone is just being naive. They pointed out that while he's not a really laggy 3-4bet monkey like a lot of younger internet style pros he really puts the pressure on a ton post-flop where inevitably he has the biggest edge. For instance, one thing that he seems to do well by putting people in horrible spots really deep is his relentless check-raising on flops. He can check-raise really thin and then apply a lot of pressure on turns/rivers after he picks up the initiative in the hand. Similarly, because he doesn't open as many buttons as say a typical player might do when folded to them on the button his %s when 3bet for either 4betting or flatting the 3bet in position are significantly higher than most peoples would be in that spot and as such is going to put a ton of pressure on you and just put you in some horrible spots post-flop. Someone else mentioned that if he is 3betting he's doing so to 5bet a lot of the time which is just a great adjustment to the games he plays and working off his image.

That was all a pretty round-about way of getting to the point that although it's probably a bit unnecessary in the current games I play online, if I do want to start playing higher and more high-stake live MTTs against some of the best in the world it's a skill worth acquiring. Being able to analyse someones range and put that range on different board textures in a lot of spots that aren't easy to play back against. It's not a particularly easy skill to develop and requires a good amount of thought and work away from the tables as well as a lot of practice at the tables. But it is really what differentiates the great regs from the mediocre regs.

Anyway, that was all pretty long winded. Today I'm going to just relax in the sunshine in San Remo, have some nice food and maybe a BBQ with some drinks later. Then tomorrow I'm crossing the border into France and flying from Nice to Dublin for the Irish Winter Festival. Hopefully I can do a little better on the poker-front out there than I have here, but anyway I'm sure it'll be a fun trip.

GL at the tables guys!


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